What Are Pennsylvania’s Drug Trafficking Penalties?

by | Dec 3, 2021

Pennsylvania drug trafficking penalties depend on the type, amount sold, prior convictions, and other factors. Maximum penalties could involve up to thirty years in prison, $500,000 in fines, lost driving privileges, and probation.

In this post, a Philadelphia drug trafficking defense lawyer at Shuttleworth Law explains possible sentences and penalties and what you might expect from the legal process.

You can also jump to rules for specific drugs using the list below:

Let’s start by discussing the first part of Pennsylvania’s drug trafficking penalties that address marijuana.

Marijuana Trafficking Penalties

Law enforcement routinely charges people with marijuana trafficking and accounts for 6.9 percent of all offenses, according to the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s website. This statistic is staggering, considering the movement to decriminalize marijuana possession. While licensed medical marijuana sales are legal, recreation marijuana trafficking still remains illegal in the state.

Maximum penalties for marijuana trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $30,000

Schedule I and II Narcotic Trafficking Penalties

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) classifies drugs with limited or no medical use and a high chance of abuse as Schedule I and II narcotics. Schedule I drugs include lyergic acid diethylamide (LSD, or “Acid”) and cocaine, and Schedule II narcotics are drugs like hydrocodone, methadone, hydromorphone, meperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin.

Maximum penalties for Schedule I and II narcotic trafficking include:

Cocaine Trafficking Penalties

In 2016, cocaine trafficking accounted for 19.8 percent of offenses. Federal and state officials actively investigate cocaine smuggling operations. Cocaine is also the most commonly smuggled drug into the state through the Port of Philadelphia and Camden.

Maximum penalties for cocaine trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000

Methamphetamine Trafficking Penalties

Pennsylvania, like many states, punishes methamphetamine trafficking cases harshly. Sales occur at several points throughout the state.

Maximum penalties for methamphetamine trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000

Amphetamine Trafficking Penalties

Amphetamines, like “bath salts,” account for a fraction of all drug trafficking cases. Maximum penalties for amphetamine trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act:

Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000

Methaqualone Trafficking Penalties

Methaqualone, more widely known as “Quaaludes,” are non-barbiturate sedatives. Benzodiazepines replaced Quaaludes in 1984 after the DEA classified them as Schedule 1 drug. They are also listed as a Schedule 1 drug in Pennsylvania.

Maximum penalties for methaqualone trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act:

Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000

Heroin Trafficking Penalties

Heroin is also a heavily-trafficked drug with high demand. About 14.4 percent of drug trafficking cases in the U.S. involve heroin, and like amphetamines, the state punishes these convictions severely. Law enforcement is currently undergoing serious efforts to crack down on heroin and fentanyl dealing because of the high frequency of heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin overdose deaths.

Maximum penalties for heroin trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 15 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 30 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000

MDMA/Ecstasy Trafficking Penalties

3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), also known as ecstasy, is popular for its energetic and emotional properties. It accounts for about five percent of all drug trafficking cases.

Maximum penalties for MDMA trafficking include:

  • For a First Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act: Up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000
  • For a Second or Subsequent Conviction Under Pennsylvania’s Controlled Substances Act:

Up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $200,000

Possible Defenses to Federal and Pennsylvania Drug Trafficking Penalties

Your charges are defensible if you get arrested for drug trafficking in Pennsylvania, regardless of whether they are state or federal charges. Even if prosecutors think they have enough evidence to secure a lock-tight conviction, you may want to hire a drug trafficking lawyer to protect your rights and fight back against weak evidence or prosecutorial mistakes.

We can create a personalized defensive strategy on your behalf. Examples of defenses Shuttleworth Law has used in the past include:

  • Defense #1: Entrapment by law enforcement officials
  • Defense #2: Charged as a victim of drug trafficking under duress
  • Defense #3: Prosecutor did not meet their burden of proof
  • Defense #4: No probable cause to conduct a search or illegal police conduct
  • Defense #5: Case of mistaken identity
  • Defense #6: Improperly executed search and arrest warrants
  • Defense #7: Past the legal deadline to prosecute
  • Defense #8: Alibi defense

Plus, many, many more over the years.

Yes, every case’s outcome is different, and no one can predict what the prosecutor knows at this moment. That is the element of surprise that they can use against you to further their case in future hearings.

Do not let this happen to you.

The media has likely led you to believe that drug trafficking cases are impossible to fight, and most people only ever hear about the ones that get BIG prison sentences involving dozens—if not hundreds—of people.

Even in those cases, some arrestees do not go to jail because the evidence simply does not exist, and they can prove it with a lawyer in court the right way.

A criminal defense lawyer has the time and resources necessary to pinpoint weaknesses in the case against you, flaws that most people miss. Not when you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer on your side. Get the legal help you want and deserve. Your future could depend on it.

Speak with a Philadelphia Drug Trafficking Attorney

Are you or a loved one facing drug trafficking charges in Pennsylvania or New Jersey? If so, our founder, Brad V. Shuttleworth, Esq., can help. Schedule a Free Drug Trafficking Case Evaluation with our office now by calling (215) 774-1371or message him privately through the contact form below.

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